Local News

FAITH GRILLED OVER STASHED K65M

By SIMON MUNTEMBA and IRVIN MUYUMWA

FAITH Musonda, a journalist believed to be the owner of the K65 million recovered from a house in Lusaka’s New Kasama Township last week was yesterday subjected to a marathon interrogation which started at 14: 05 until almost 23:00.

“We have made substantial progress. We have been told to come another day,” one of Ms Musonda’s lawyers, Mr Makebi Zulu told journalists before leaving Lusaka Division with her.

Ms Musonda arrived at Lusaka Division at 14:05 hours accompanied by Mr Zulu and  his colleague, Mr Jonas Zimba.

At about 21: 00, Mr Zulu briefly stepped out of the interrogation room to pick up a phone from his car outside the station, but returned.

“I just came to get my phone in the car guys,” Mr Zulu told anxious reporters who had surrounded him.

There was mounting speculation that police were making headways in their interrogation and that lawyers were trying to negotiate with the police not to have her detained.

Journalists kept vigil at Lusaka Central Police Station and by press time, Ms Musonda was still held in the interrogation room together with her lawyers and a police officer urged journalists to remain calm as investigation were ongoing.

On Friday last week, police searched Ms Musonda’s house in New Kasama where K63,  330, 000 was discovered in 30 travelling bags and another US$57, 350 found in a safe after a tip.

Police also indicated that the suspect identified as Ms Faith Musonda was reportedly on the run and a manhunt was launched.

But on Tuesday, Ms Musonda reappeared and reported herself to the police in the company of the two lawyers who allayed allegations that she was on the run.

Meanwhile, in a 2013 ruling, the Lusaka High Court  ruled that it was not mandatory in Zambia that money should be kept in the bank. Delivering the verdict in a case in which former Labour Minister Austin Liato was acquitted, Judge Mwinde Siavwapa, on behalf of two other judges, said that it was not unusual that people have various ways of keeping lawfully earned money.

The judge also ruled that the prosecution team did not establish the source of the money to arrive at the decision that the cash was proceeds of crime.

The judgement was delivered by three High Court judges – Mwinde Siavwapa, Chalwe Mchenga and Annie Sharpe-Phiri.

The court has also ordered that his Mwembeshi farm and the K2.1million which were confiscated from him be given back to him.

This is a case in which Liato who is also former Kaoma Member of Parliament appealed against a two-year jail term that was slapped on him by the Lusaka magistrate court for being in possession of the K2.1 million which was found buried at his farm.

Judge Siavwapa ruled that the lower court erred to suspect that the money was proceed of a crime on the basis that the money was buried in the ground.

Particulars of the offence were that on November 24, 2011 in Lusaka, Liato did possess and conceal money at his farm no L/Mpamba/44 Mwembeshi amounting to K2.1 million reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.

In delivering judgement on behalf of the other two high court judges, Justice Siavwapa said the particulars of the offence were defective for duplicity because it was alleged that in the same count, the appellant who is Liato did possess and concealed the money.

Judge Siavwapa said Liato was only correctly charged for being in possession of money and not concealing it despite the money being hidden in the ground at his farm.

Judge Siavwapa said the prosecution was supposed to prove that the money that the appellant was found with was reasonably suspected proceeds of crime despite that he was in possession of the money because it was found buried at his farm.

He said failure by the appellant to render an explanation of the origin of the money cannot be basis for inferring that the money was proceeds of crime.

He further said the prosecution should have proved with reasonable suspicion that the money was proceeds of crime if they linked its source or the accused to possible criminal conduct.

“In the absence of evidence of the appellant not having the capacity to earn the amount he was found with, we do not think it is reasonable to come to the conclusion that it was proceeds of crime because it was buried at his farm than putting it in a bank account,” he said.

Judge Siavwapa said the trial court came to the conclusion that the money was proceeds of crime because it was found buried at the farm but that the higher court found that it was unusual that it was not mandatory for a person to always keep money in a bank, saying people anywhere in the world can keep money lawfully earned in a home or in any manner they desired.

He further said Liato’s personal and business bank accounts were inspected but could not tell the level of economic activity in those accounts because the statements of accounts were not presented to the court.

He said there was also evidence that Liato was also paid gratuity from National Assembly although the amounts were not disclosed to the court.

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